Optional Practical Training (OPT) Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Extension Supplemental Information Sheet
STEM Extension Employment Authorization:
- Students seeking OPT STEM Extension must be working for or have an offer of employment from an employer enrolled in the E-verify system.
- Employer agrees to notify International Student Affairs of any changes in employment within 48 hours of any change.
- You are expected to be employed in your field of study during OPT.
- The maximum period of unemployment is 120 days, inclusive of any days of unemployment accrued during initial 12 months of OPT.
- If you begin a new full-time degree program during your authorized OPT STEM Extension period, whether at Shepherd or elsewhere, you will lose any time remaining on your EAD Card. You will be required to cease employment upon release of your SEVIS record from Shepherd to the new institution or upon issuance of a new Form I-20 for a different program.
- Please note that there is no option to further extend the OPT. When the 36 months have been completed, you must seek another visa status if you wish to remain in the United States to continue employment.
- Once OPT has been granted, you cannot cancel it. You must use it or lose it.
During your period of Post-Completion OPT, you are still in F-1 student status.
- You must notify International Student Affairs of any changes in:
- your name and physical address;
- your phone number and/or email address;
- your employer’s name, address and employment status; and
- any other pertinent information about your stay in the United States (i.e. change of status, transfer to a new degree program, requesting OPT STEM Extension).
- You must report to International Student Affairs every six months to verify employer information.
- You will have a 60 day grace period after the expiration date on your EAD.
- You must obtain a travel signature from International Student Affairs when needed for departure and re-entry into the U.S.
Application Process for OPT STEM Extension
Step 1: Meet with your current supervisor to discuss your plan to submit the application for the OPT STEM Extension. If in agreement, your supervisor needs to send an email to International Student Affairs confirming your employment and the company’s status as an e-verify company.
Step 2: Contact International Student Affairs to discuss the extension and procedures.
Step 3: Prepare the application materials you must mail to USCIS within 30 days of creation of new I-20:
- Original, completed and signed Form I-765
- Check the appropriate box at the top of the form that says “I am applying for”.
- Item #3: Mail from the USCIS will not be forwarded. Please consult with International Student Affairs if you may be moving in the months after you submit the OPT application.
- Item #10: Your I-94 number appears on the upper left-hand corner of your I-94 card or on the top of your electronic I-94 record.
- Item #11: If your previous receipt notice started with the three-letter code, the indicated Service Center processed your application. EAC = Vermont Service Center; WAC = California Service Center; LIN = Nebraska Service Center or SRC = Texas Service Center.
- Items #12, 13, and 14: Date, place, & manner of last entry should match current I-94 card.
- Item #15: Your current visa status is either “F-1” or “Student”.
- Item #16: Fill in (C)(3)(C) for OPT STEM extension.
- Item #17: Be sure to report your employer’s E-Verify Name and Number in this section.
- Don’t forget to sign the form within the lines!
- Original completed Form G-1145 (Optional, but highly recommended).
- Copies of pages 1 and 3 of all previous I-20s (including those from former schools). Make sure your signature is on the front page of each I-20. No staples, please!
- Copies of pages 1 and 3 of newest I-20 with OPT recommendation on page 3. No staples, please!
- Copy of the biographical page of your passport.
- Copy of the front and back of your I-94 card OR a copy of your electronic I-94.
- A copy of any previous EAD cards (if applicable).
- Check or money order for $380 payable to the S. Department of Homeland Security.
- Two US passport-style photographs taken within the last 30 days. Lightly print your name and I-94 Number on the back of each photo in pencil. The photos should be placed in an envelope or plastic bag and paper clipped to the application so they are not lost.
Step 4: Mail application materials to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. If you list a Pennsylvania address on your Form I-765, application materials must be submitted to one of the addresses below. If you list an address elsewhere in the US, please find the appropriate address via the USCIS website.
Step 5: Receive Receipt Notice within 2-3 weeks.
Step 6: Receive EAD card within 2-3 months. You may continue working while you have a pending application for up to 180 days from the end-date of your initial EAD Card.
Students applying for post-completion OPT STEM Extension:
- May apply no sooner than 120 days before the end-date of current Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card).
- Employment authorization will be requested on the day following the end-date of the current EAD Card. Cannot modify requested employment dates.
- May continue working under current employment authorization for up to 180 days while the OPT STEM Extension application is pending.
USCIS must receive the OPT application:
- Up to 120 days before the end-date of your current EAD Card.
- NO LATER THAN the end-date of current EAD Card.
- NO LATER THAN 30 days after the new Form I-20 with OPT STEM Extension recommendation on page 3 was prepared. If you are delayed in sending your application, please request a new I-20 from International Student Affairs.
Requests for Evidence:
If you receive a request for further evidence (RFE) or a denial, there are specific deadlines by which you must respond. OIS can advise you how to proceed if this occurs.